(c) Copyright 2006 by Amy M. Potavin

How many times have you been asked "What are you going to do to motivate your employees?"

If you are like most people, you immediately start spouting off ideas about incentive programs, raises in compensation, or other actions that YOU intend to take. Unfortunately, that approach is ALL WRONG!

Webster defines motivation as a "condition of being motivated by a motivating force" which is further defined as a "stimulus, influence, incentive or drive." Now, as definitions go; this is not the best definition I have ever seen.

But what this does illustrate is the simple fact that motivation occurs when an individual is intrigued by an incentive or an internal drive. Simply stated, motivation is a personal and internalized state, unique to the individual. Only the employee has control over what is motivating to him. All you can do as a supervisor or manager is CREATE THE CONDITIONS that ALLOW THE EMPLOYEE TO BE SELF-MOTIVATED.

Now, if you are reading this article, you are closer to creating a solution than you think. This is because you are already genuinely and authentically interested in creating a better environment for your employees. Understanding this key concept of motivation is the first step to creating a motivating environment. Now its time to really focus on a simple method to increase employee involvement and therefore, increase employee self-motivation.

Firstly, know that your employees value your opinions, your insights, and your time. They value the effort you take to work with them to develop their skill sets and their careers.

This truth stems from a very basic reality of human nature. Everyone develops a need for positive regard; positive attention and consideration. Secondly, your employees value these actions because it enhances their self-image.
Coaching your employees and establishing clear career paths is an easy way to fulfill this need. Fear not; coaching need not be a complex system of playbooks and constant practice. It can be as simple as having your employees create a Personal Development Plan and meeting with them quarterly to review their progress.

Keep in mind that you should not create the plan FOR the employee. Rather the employee must create their own plan. This ensures the employee's buy-in (and reduces the amount of time you must dedicate to coaching) and also ensures that the plan is MEANINGFUL and IMPORTANT to the employee. The plan should be specific with concrete objectives or goals, and should include specific target completion dates.

And, by meeting with the employee quarterly to review their progress, you are holding the employee accountable for THEIR OWN personal development. Because the employee created their own Development Plan, the employee only ends up disappointing themselves if they have made little or no progress.

Congratulations! You have just CREATED THE CONDITIONS that ALLOW your employees to BE SELF-MOTIVATED!

Implementing this simple step, which you too can easily do, will accomplish several things. Firstly, your employees will be more motivated (and hopefully, your superiors will never again ask you how you intend to motivate your employees!) Secondly, your employees will develop better technical skills-and they will do it faster.

Now, put this into practice and see what develops.

Author's Bio: 

Ms. Potavin is a talented manager with over 15 years of experience and an entrepreneurial spirit. She is now assisting managers, executives and entrepreneurs as a Professional Business and Life Coach to BELIEVE and SUCCEED.